It also is time that we rethink our school calendar. The board supports a county's decision to adopt a balanced calendar to allow sufficient time for quality instruction leading to mastery for every student. In addition, we believe West Virginia must streamline the delivery of professional development for our teachers and principals.
All of these changes are not easy, especially in a state like West Virginia, where the economic, social and education challenges are many and the list of obstacles we face continues to grow daily. When our students lag behind their counterparts in other states and nations, when too many of our students fail to graduate from high school, when too few of our graduates go on to post-secondary education, we must act. That's why having forward-thinking decision-makers who are willing to take risks as described in our report for the betterment of children is paramount.
We have about 282,000 students in 728 public schools in West Virginia. The students are why we believe much of the money saved by making positive changes noted in the audit, should be reallocated to education. Doing so will offset the cost of implementing the audit recommendations. Examples of cost savings can be found in examining the school transportation system and transferring Cedar Lakes Conference Center to another agency.
As board members, it is our duty to provide ideas, direction, inspiration and supervision to make certain West Virginia students receive their constitutional right to a thorough and efficient education. While this audit is not a blueprint for the future, it has provided an independent review that has helped us uncover areas where we can improve to better serve students and increase their levels of performance and progress.
The board has three goals for public schools. First, we want students to learn 21st century skills while meeting or exceeding state, national and international standards. Secondly, we want students to develop wellness, responsibility, cultural awareness, self-direction, ethical character and good citizenship skills. Lastly, we want to ensure students graduate from high school prepared for post-secondary education and career success.
Implementing our goals with a can-do attitude will help us move beyond the "this is the way it has always been done" mentality to develop an environment that embraces innovative ideas and allows our schools to provide students with the best teachers, best curriculum and best chance for future success.
The state board is dedicated to serious education reform to provide our schools and teachers with the tools, training and flexibility necessary for students to succeed in work and in life. The challenge for all of us is to be a positive force in lives of children's by always making decisions that put students first.
Linger is president of the West Virginia Board of Education.